CBOT Closing Comments

29/10/10 -- Soybeans

Jan CBOT soybean futures settled unchanged at USD12.36; Dec soyoil settled 40 points lower at 49.30; December soymeal ended USD1.40 higher at USD337.70. Despite a weaker overnight market and lower opening the soy complex turned round to close near unchanged levels. The continued strong export pace underpins the complex. Soybean export commitments are at 66% of the USDA estimated exports for the year v 44% on average.


CBOT Dec corn ended 3c higher at USD5.82 a bushel. CBOT March corn also closed 3c higher at USD5.95 a bushel. Corn opened lower on news that China had rejected a cargo of US corn on the grounds of it containing "unsanctioned GMO" strains. Spillover strength from wheat and a weak dollar supported corn later in the session. Fund buying also helped. Russia have agreed to import 2 MMT of corn from Ukraine.


CBOT Dec wheat closed down 1c at USD7.17 1/4 a bushel; KCBT Dec wheat settled down 1/4c at USD7.71, and MGEX Dec wheat was up 1/2c to USD7.76 3/4. Wheat consolidated a little after a week of strong gains with Dec CBOT wheat up 46 1/2 cents on the week. US Wheat export commitments are at 57% of the USDA's estimated exports for the year vs 66% on average for this date. US weather is a concern for developing wheat ahead of winter dormancy.

EU Wheat Close

29/10/10 -- Nov10 London wheat ended Friday GBP0.50 lower at GBP170.25/tonne, whilst Nov11 wheat was GBP0.25 higher to GBP145.00/tonne.

Nov10 Paris wheat was EUR1.25 higher at EUR225.00/tonne, with Nov11 up EUR1 to EUR196.25/tonne.

Nov10 London wheat rose GBP8.50/tonne on the week, with Nov11 up GBP6.75/tonne. In Paris, Nov10 gained EUR15.50/tonne with Nov11 EUR10.50 higher.

A resurgent pound capped London gains. A growing feeling that the current tightness could get carried into 2011/12 is starting to see new crop values almost keep pace with old crop increases now.

Brussels awarded 389,000 MT of soft wheat export licences this past week, bringing the cumulative total to date for the current marketing year to 8.1 MMT, a 35% increase on 6 MMT at the same time last year.

It is worth noting however that EU-27 export pace picked up somewhat during the second half of last season, the reverse is likely to be true this time round.

IF the current export pace of 450,000 MT a week was to be maintained for the rest of the season then ending stocks would fall to 8.6 MMT - the lowest figure I can find going back as far as the late 1980's - and the equivalent of just 25 days worth of consumption.

If not, and we finish the season with exports of 21 MMT and ending stocks of 11 MMT, as currently predicted by the USDA, then these would be the lowest since 2003/04.

EU Rapemeal Prices

29/10/10 -- Basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/tonne:

May/FH Jul11

Early Call On CBOT

29/10/10 -- The overnight grains were lower across the board, consolidating from another week of solid gains that sees Dec CBOT wheat up 47 1/2 cents, Dec corn up 19 cents and Jan soybeans up 24 1/2 cents.

Overnight Dec wheat finished 4 1/2c lower, with Dec corn down 5 1/2c and Jan beans 9 3/4c lower.

Almost everyone is dangerously bullish, even me. Unlike some though my eyes are peeled for danger signs.

One may be the news of China apparently rejecting a cargo of US corn citing "unsanctioned GMO" strains. Not only did they fail to show up as a buyer of US corn last week in yesterday's USDA weekly export sales report, now they are rejecting what they have bought.

Russia's winter grain plantings are more advanced than many had feared, and they say that they will up spring seedings by almost a quarter too. Anecdotal reports from our Ukraine agronomist buddy Mike Lee, who has ventured over the border into Russia, say that "the wheat I have seen here in Russia is looking mighty impressive, plenty of well developed, healthy looking plants."

Shorter term Russia are out of the market and have agreed to import 2 MMT of corn from Ukraine.

US weather is fine for wrapping up the corn and bean harvest, but not too great for developing wheat ahead of winter dormancy.

It is of course month-end too today so we may well see some profit-taking ahead of the weekend.

Early calls: corn 4-5c lower, beans 8-10c lower, wheat 4-5c lower.


29/10/10 -- Unconfirmed reports suggest that a cargo of US corn has been rejected upon arrival in China on the grounds of "unsanctioned GMO content".

The Ukraine government have said that they will finally allow all grain vessels held up awaiting customs clearance to depart. Reports circulating yesterday that sunflower oil and meal exports are now being held back would appear to be true. Whether the same applies to rape by-products, or indeed the seed itself, is still unclear.

Yesterday's news that Ukraine had agreed to supply 2 MMT of "grains" to Russia would appear to be part of this season's estimated 11 MMT corn crop. This tonnage is in addition to the 2 MMT of corn that is allowed to be exported in the remainder of 2010 under the government's recently introduced export quota system. Grain exporters will apparently be invited to bid to obtain these quotas by the cash-hungry government. Considering that they owe a fortune in VAT refunds to the same companies that they are now inviting to bid for the right to export that's pretty rich indeed.

Russian farmers have planted 14 million hectares of a likely final total of 15.5 million ha of winter grains, according to the Ag Ministry. Winter grain output in 2011 will total 40 MMT, with spring grain plantings increasing from 28.5 million ha to 35 million ha spring grain production will total 45 MMT in 2011, they say. Problem sorted, in theory. Still, with domestic consumption of 75-77 MMT that would only leave a relatively modest 8-10 MMT or so surplus with which to replenish this season's depleted stocks, leaving very little over to export in 2011/12.

The Chinese are to add a further 11 MMT of soybean crush capacity in the current season, bringing their total capacity to 95 MMT. CNGOIC say that the country will crush 58 MMT of soybeans this season, although other private estimates suggest a higher number than that.

EU Wheat Exports Latest

29/10/10 -- Brussels awarded 389,000 MT of soft wheat export licences this past week, bringing the cumulative total to date for the current marketing year to 8.1 MMT, a 35% increase on where we were this time last year.

The USDA currently have the EU-27 down to export 21 MMT this season, 1.1 MMT less than in 2009/10, so we need to slow up a little.

That said, at the average pace so far of 450,000 MT/week it will still take 47 weeks to ship 21 MMT, so we're not as far ahead of ourselves as some would like to make out.

Chicago Close

28/10/10 -- Soybeans

Nov 10 soybeans closed at USD12.25, up 1 1/4 cents; Dec 10 soybean meal closed at USD336.30, up USD0.40; Dec 10 soybean oil closed at 49.70, up 10 points. Beans rallied to new highs early in the session on the back of another week of strong export sales, but faded near later in the day. The USDA reported 2.026 MMT were sold for export last week, the second week above 2 MMT. In addition they also reported a further 305,000 MT sold to "unknown". Census crush for September was in line with expectations at 130.44 million bushels.


Dec 10 corn closed at USD5.79, up 1 3/4 cents; Mar 11 corn closed at USD5.92, up 1 3/4 cents. Weekly Export Sales of 550,800 MT for corn which was above trade estimates. There was however no sign of the widely rumoured sales to China with Japan and South Korea the largest buyers. Argentina has planted 68.7% of their corn, up 6.2 points from last week, and are looking at a potential record 26 MMT crop. They are the second largest exporter in the world after the US.


Dec 10 CBOT wheat closed at USD7.18 1/4, up 15 1/2 cents; Dec 10 KCBT wheat closed at USD7.71 1/4, up 17 1/4 cents; Dec 10 MGEX wheat closed at USD7.76 1/4, up 18 cents. Trade estimates for export sales were 400-700 TMT, they actual came in at 604,400 MT. US Wheat export commitments are at 57% of the USDA’s estimated exports for the year vs 66% on average. US weather remains a concern for winter wheat. Funds were net buyers of an estimated 4,000 wheat contracts in Chicago.

EU Wheat Close

28/10/10 -- Nov London wheat finished the day with gains of GBP6.25 to GBP170.75/tonne, with Nov Paris wheat up EUR5 at EUR224.00/tonne.

Wheat was on the up from the off, but gathered steady momentum throughout the day.

News that Germany had voted to up the maximum inclusion rate of bioethanol in fuel from 5% to 10% set the tone. Later in the day came unconfirmed rumours that Ukraine was to curb sunflower seed and rapeseed exports and/or those of their by-products.

About to expire Nov Paris rapeseed had an incredible day, trading around EUR7.50 higher for much of the day before closing EUR12.50 lower. That contract goes off the board tomorrow with Feb becoming the new front month. That contract finished EUR1.25 higher at EUR404.75/tonne.

Chicago wheat opened sharply higher, propelling EU grains to their best gains of the day in afternoon trade.

It now seems fairly clear that Russia will be down to "bare boards" come next harvest, and they are reportedly using all their powers of persuasion to strike deals with their neighbours to avoid them having to emerge as outright importers of grains.

Well-placed concerns over the future of next season's harvest already exist, at the very least that looks set to minimise their export abilities for 2011/12 too.

Ukraine Strikes Deal With Russia

28/10/10 -- Vladimir Putin has called on his old mate Ukraine PM Mykola Azarov to call in a few favours, and presumably assure him that cutting off last year's gas supply was merely a clerical error.

Reports earlier in the week that Russia was potentially in the market to do some sort of swap deal with Ukraine appear to have held some truth.

The story was that Russia might be prepared to let some of it's milling wheat reserves go in exchange for feed grains. What wheat Russia does have left reputedly contains a high percentage of milling grade, which conveniently is exactly what Ukraine is short of.

The Ukraine daily newspaper Delo is today apparently carrying a story that the two PM's have shook hands on a deal for Ukraine to supply Russia with 2 MMT of feed grain (probably corn), although there is no mention of milling wheat travelling in the opposite direction as yet.

Other reports circulating out of Ukraine today suggest that some kind of export ban or elaborate red-tape filled restrictions will now apply to sunseed/rapeseed and/or their by-products.

In light of the queue of ships that have been waiting to leave Ukraine already loaded with grain of late, it would be a brave sole who would now charter a vessel to attempt to outload these products. That effectively rules Ukraine out as a supplier for a while until these glitches are ironed out.

As and when things do eventually return to normal, Ukraine's status as a reliable supplier (which let's face it wasn't exactly great anyway) now looks even shakier than that bloke they had on MasterChef last night.

Early Call On CBOT

28/10/10 -- The overnight grains closed firmer, with wheat leading the way up 10-12c, beans closed up 6-8c with corn 4-5c higher.

Weekly export sales from the USDA were very strong once again at just over 2 MMT, with the Chinese taking their now customary three quarters of that. Wheat and corn sales were in line with expectations. There was no sign of the widely touted Chinese presence in corn.

The September US soybean census crush came in as expected at 10.4 million bushels, compared to 114.0 million last year and 128.1 last month.

US weather remains a concern for winter wheat. "La Nina is nearing its strongest point. Long range models predict La Nina will continue to intensify over the next 45- 60 days, then then level off and last through at least next spring. These same models say La Nina will be one of the strongest in the past 100 years," say QT Weather.

European markets are sharply higher after Germany doubled it's maximum inclusion rate for bioethanol in fuel sold at the pumps to 10%. Unconfirmed rumours are circulating today that the Ukraine may extend it's export ban/quota system to include rapeseed and sunseed.

China continues to import soybeans as if each tonne comes with a free iPad, at current rates even some analysts estimates of an import requirement of 60MMT in 2011 might be too low!

On top of the USDA's weekly export sales, they also today reported a further 305,000 MT of soybeans sold to unknown under the daily reporting system.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn up 3-5c, beans up 5-7c, wheat up 10-12c.

USDA Weekly Export Sales

28/10/10 -- USDA Weekly Export Sales for the period October 15-21, 2010:

2,025,800 MT
1.5-2.0 MMT
604,400 MT
400-700,000 MT
550,800 MT
450-550,000 MT

It was another strong week for soybean sales, coming in at over 2 MMT for the second week on the trot. China inevitably took around three quarters of that booking 1,369,600 MT.

Despite all the rumours there were NO corn sales to China however. The top buyer here was Japan (190,200 MT). Wheat sales featured Egypt (240,200 MT) as the biggest buyer.

Actual shipments were strong for beans at 1,934,100 MT, with China taking 1,476,600 MT. Corn shipments were 581,700 MT, down 30 percent from the previous and 35 percent from the prior 4-week average. Wheat exports were 653,100 MT.

Next Week I Will Mostly Be Buying One Of These

28/10/10 -- The Samsung Galaxy Tab, a kind of iPhone and iPad combined. Yes, I know it hasn't got the little Apple logo on the back of it, but it does a whole lot that the iPad can't do.

Like make a phone call for instance, and for me the all important ability to display flash and java. Internet commonplace they may be, but if Big Mr Jobs doesn't like them then they don't get supported by Apple do they?

There's also cameras front and back, not that I plan on whipping it out to take pictures on it, but the front facing video camera opens up all sorts of video conferencing potential. Download an android skype app and hey presto video conferencing with my brother in Australia for free via wifi.

As well as 16GB of onboard storage there's also a micro-SD card slot and the comforting knowledge that it runs on Google's open-sourced Android OS, rather than Apple's closed-shop super-secretive version.

And guess what it has USB connectivity too, who'd have thought of a wacky off the wall crazy idea like that eh? Not Mr Jobs that's for sure.

EU Rapemeal Prices

28/10/10 -- Basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/tonne:

May/FH Jul11

This Thing Has Legs

28/10/10 -- This market isn't showing any signs of dying anytime soon. Having just completed an in depth market report for one of my clients I found myself getting more and more bullish with every page I wrote.

From a UK perspective we have the strong export pace of wheat, only a modest increase in planted area for 2011 coupled with a new bioethanol plant to feed. Add to that a currency that is about as popular as root canal surgery and it's rather difficult to whip up too much bearish enthusiasm.

The Germans have just agreed to up the inclusion rate of bioethanol in petrol from 5% to 10%.

We've got a La Nina-induced drought threatening US wheat on the Great Plains and a severe drought in Western Australia.

Throw into the mix China buying soybeans like they're going out of style. They're expected to import 5.6 MMT in October, which would be their second highest monthly total of the year, in a harvest month that is traditionally a quiet one for them.

Then there's reports of China's domestic corn reserves running at less than a months supply, Russian winter grain plantings well down and late planted, ditto Ukraine, export embargos and quotas to contend with, and that's before we see what other nasty surprises Mother Nature has in store this winter.

Germans Vote To Increase Bioethanol Inclusion Rate

28/10/10 -- The German government yesterday approved the proposal to raise the maximum inclusion rate of bioethanol in petrol from 5% to 10%.

The necessary paperwork is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with sales of the new fuel starting early in 2011.

The Ministry estimate that 90% of German tanks, sorry cars, will be able to use the new blend.


28/10/10 -- Premier Foods' interim management statement for the three months ended 30 September 2010 is out today. In it they report year on year sales value growth of 1.8% and volume growth of 9.5% for their Hovis brand.

The Hovis value market share of pre-packed loaves in the quarter was 25.5%, up 0.1 percentage points on the same period last year.

Interestingly though, non-branded sales fell 18.4% in the third quarter, "reflecting continued decline in the retailer brand bread market, bulk flour deflation in 2009 and the impact of exiting low margin contracts in 2009. We expect this decline to continue to slow in the fourth quarter as we lap the contract exits in 2009 and as wheat prices increase," they say.

"During the third quarter, wheat prices increased by more than 50%. Accordingly we have repriced our entire bread and flour range. This exercise is complete and the pricing covers the input cost inflation. The result is slightly negative to Trading profit in 2010 as there is a stagger between when commodity costs increase and when new pricing comes into effect. Nevertheless, we expect the Hovis division at least to match the £31m Trading profit recorded in 2009," they added.

Not even a mention of the Tesco fascists, or the offer of a fight with Terry Leahy in the car park, nothing. Which I find mildly disappointing, personally.

Chicago Closing Comments

27/10/10 -- Soybeans

Nov 10 soybeans closed at USD12.23 3/4, up 4 3/4 cents; Dec 10 soybean meal closed at USD335.90, up USD0.40; Dec 10 soybean oil closed at 49.60, up 7 points. Nov 10 beans opened sharply lower and briefly fell below USD12/bushel, but rallied to post modest gains by the close of play. Trade estimates for export sales reported tomorrow are 1.5-2.0 MMT. Census crush data for September will be released tomorrow morning with average crush estimates at 130.5 million bushels, compared to 114.0 million last year and 128.1 last month.


Dec 10 corn closed at USD5.77 1/4, up 6 1/4 cents; Mar 11 corn closed at USD5.90 1/4, up 6 1/4 cents; May 11 corn closed at USD5.96, up 6 cents. Corn closed near session highs after opening lower and coming under early pressure on the back of a firmer US dollar. Private estimates for China’s strategic corn reserves are as low as 10 MMT after the release of 45 MMT over the course of the last 2 years. Trade estimates for USDA weekly export sales reported tomorrow are a very minimal 450-550 TMT.


Dec 10 CBOT wheat closed at USD7.02 3/4, up 10 3/4 cents; Dec 10 KCBT wheat closed at USD7.54, up 15 1/2 cents; Dec 10 MGEX Wheat closed at USD7.58 1/4, up 12 1/2 cents. This was the first CBOT Nov wheat close above USD7/bu since Oct 15th. Concerns over crop conditions in the Plains are still at the forefront, where below normal precipitation is expected this next week. Trade estimates for export sales reported tomorrow are 400-700 TMT.

EU Wheat Closing Comments

27/10/10 -- Nov10 London wheat closed GBP1 higher at GBP164.50/tonne and Nov10 Paris wheat up EUR3.25 to EUR219.00/tonne.

In London the old crop/new crop differential continues to narrow, with Nov11 London wheat ending the day with gains of GBP2.75 to GBP143.25/tonne.

Clearly the notion that a discount of more than GBP20/tonne for Nov11 over nearby Nov10 represents an attractive buying proposition is starting to catch on.

With US winter wheat conditions amongst the worst in years due to La Nina, Russian plantings well behind normal, Ukraine's crop stunted and Western Australia wheat wilting there's more than one reason to suggest that the current supply tightness could extend into the 2011/12 crop.

At home UK winter wheat plantings are only expected to show a modest increase for next year's harvest, despite current prices. The high price of rapeseed has got something to do with that, with Paris rapeseed for Nov10 closing just EUR0.50 short of the magical EUR400/tonne mark tonight, an all time contract high.

A firmer pound capped some of London's gains, as sterling gained further following yesterday's gains after Q3 GDP growth came in much better than expected.

Breaking News

27/10/10 -- Former Argentine President, and husband of the current incumbent and hot babe Cristina Fernandez, Nestor Kirchner has gone to meet his maker at an uncomfortably early 60.

I bet there will be all sorts of speculation over that. And I equally bet that she will look gorgeous choking back tears in black.

Some might say that tears won't be the only thing she'll be choking back, but not me, the bloke's still warm for Christ's sake. Have a heart.

She does look a bit like Julia Bradbury too doesn't she?

EU Wheat Close

26/10/10 -- Nov London wheat closed GBP2.50 higher at GBP163.50/tonne, and Nov Paris wheat gained EUR5.50 to EUR215.75/tonne.

A resurgent pound following better than expected UK Q3 GDP capped London's gains, whilst Paris strode ahead on the back of a firmer CBOT market and the strong pace of Eu exports.

The USDA pegged winter wheat crop conditions as the worst in at least fifteen years last night, at a time when a big American crop is really needed.

Russian winter grain plantings are well behind at 13.3 million hectares compared to 18.5 million last year. Meanwhile Ukraine winter wheat plantings also look like falling short of their intended target of around 6.75 million hectares.

Whilst the world is not really that short of wheat this year, we certainly might be if those three don't deliver a decent crop in 2011.

Australia's wheat crop seems to be shrinking, and excessive wetness in the east may also be causing disease and quality downgrades.

CBOT Close

26/10/10 -- Soybeans

Nov 10 Soybeans closed at USD12.19, up 1 1/4 cents : Dec 10 soybean meal closed at USD335.50, up USD0.90 Dec 10 soybean oil closed at 49.53, up 6 points. Brazil was 25% sold on its 2010/11 crop as of Friday, up 2 points from last week and 8 from last year. The market was seemingly disappointed that China didn't show up as a buyer under the USDA's daily reporting system, for the first time in six sessions.


Dec 10 Corn closed at USD5.71, up 2 1/4 cents; Mar 11 Corn closed at USD5.84, up 2 1/2 cents; May 11 Corn closed at USD5.90, up 2 3/4 cents. The big action for corn was in the back months like Mar ‘12 which saw 6 1/4 cent gains. Ethanol is trading 1.3 cents higher at $2.271/gallon. Reports suggest that Russia is so short of feed grains it might be looking to "swap" milling wheat for Ukraine corn.


Dec 10 CBOT wheat closed at USD6.92, up 18 cents; Dec 10 KCBT wheat closed at USD7.38 1/2, up 16 3/4 cents; Dec 10 MGEX Wheat closed at USD.45 3/4, up 13 1/4 cents. Below normal precipitation is expected this next week on top of already dry conditions for most winter wheat areas. Export inspections for wheat were in line with expectations at 21,517 million bushels.

Distant Alarm Bells Ringing

26/10/10 -- Last night's USDA crop condition report for wheat, the first of the season, placed only 47% of the crop in good/excellent condition. That's the crop's worst start to a season in at least fifteen years.

It wouldn't be such a major concern if it wasn't coming on the back of this season's problems in Russia and Ukraine. The hangover from drought earlier in the year there means that winter sowings are going to be significantly reduced in the case of Russia, and have got into the ground late in the case of Ukraine, leaving crops vulnerable to winterkill should we get a harsh winter.

The world is looking pretty heavily reliant on the US to fill the void in wheat availability this year, and luckily they have plenty with which to do it. After two years of stock replenishment the US, whether by luck or by judgement, have refused to get drawn into the "wheat price war" instigated largely by cheap Black Sea sellers, and have stood away from the market.

This leaves them with more than ample wheat stocks with which to supply the world in 2010/11, with ending stocks there still projected to be the second largest in the last ten years - even with the increase in sales this season.

The alarm bells are however already ringing in relation to next season's crop on the back of last night's crop condition ratings, as we really need a decent wheat crop out of the US next year. They are after all the world's largest exporter.

Whilst dryness in the Great Plains was alleviated somewhat by rains at the weekend, prompting ideas that next week's crop condition ratings could in fact show an improvement, it has already caused late emergence. With that comes lack of maturity heading into winter.

Drier and warmer weather than normal is the forecast for the US bread-making wheat states for the next fortnight. Even with the weekend rains factored in "the rainfall plot for Dodge City, Kansas, still shows a 3.7 inch moisture deficit for the period August 1- October 23," say Martell Crop Projections.

This August-October rainfall deficit is being blamed on La Nina, now having reached the "strong" phase. The Climate Prediction Centre believes La Nina will now persist through the Northern Hemisphere winter, they warn.

US winter wheat harvested acres are frequently significantly less than planted acres, with poorly established crops often being turned over to cattle for grazing in the spring rather than being harvested. An additional "risk" to winter wheat this season may be the price of corn. If that holds up at current levels there may be an increased temptation amongst some US farmers to rip up their wheat in the spring and give corn a shot instead.

EU wheat exports will likely have dried up by then too, meaning that the wheat availability picture could look a whole lot tighter if it looks like we are facing a reduced US crop and another disappointing year from Russia and the FSU.

No wonder those 2011/12 discounts are eroding.

Breaking News

26/10/10 -- UK GDP came in this morning showing growth of 0.8% in the third quarter. Whilst that was down on growth of 1.2% in Q2, it was substantially better than most analysts had feared, projecting growth of only 0.4%.

That should take some of the pressure off sterling this morning, and ease fears of an imminent return to more QE measures.

The pound rose to 1.5840 against the dollar and 1.1350 vs the euro shortly after the news.

Chicago Close

25/10/10 -- Soybeans

Nov soybeans ended up 18 1/4 cents at USD12.17 3/4; Dec soymeal closed up USD3.70 to USD334.60; Dec soyoil ended up 117 points at 49.47. The USDA reported China taking another 232,000 MT of US beans today. China imported 68% more soybeans in September 2010 than they did in the same month of 2009, according to customs data. The USDA reported the US soybean harvest at 91% complete, versus just 42% at this time a year ago and 72% normally. Brazil is only 16% planted vs. 21% last year, but up from 7% last week.


CBOT Dec corn ended 8 3/4 cents higher at USD5.68 3/4; CBOT March corn closed up 9 1/4 cents to $5.81 1/2. Chinese corn futures on the Dalian Exchange hit record levels overnight on ideas that this season's crop will be significantly below official estimates of 169 MMT. Rumours still circulate of Chinese buying interest in US corn, although none showed up in last week's USDA export sales report. The USDA report the US corn harvest at 83% complete, versus just 20% a year ago and 49% normally.


Dec CBOT wheat ended up 3 1/4 cents at USD6.74 per bushel; MGEX Dec wheat ended up 4 1/4 cents to USD7.32 1/2 per bushel; KCBT wheat closed up 2 3/4 cents to USD7.21 3/4per bushel. Australia's wheat crop seems to be shrinking whilst Argentina's is getting bigger. The USDA reported winter wheat at 88% planted, up 8 points from last week and 4 ahead of normal. Emergence is running at 64%, 13 points up on last week and in line with average. Last season they rated 62% of the crop as good/excellent and only 5% as poor/very poor. Today they peg that at 47% and 14% respectively, the lowest good/excellent at this time of year for many years.

EU Wheat Close

25/10/10 -- EU wheat futures closed mixed, but mostly higher, Monday with Nov10 London wheat down GBP0.75 at GBP161.00/tonne and Nov11 London wheat up GBP0.75 to GBP139.00/tonne. Nov10 Paris wheat closed EUR0.75 higher at EUR210.25/tonne and Nov11 Paris wheat was up EUR1.25 to EUR187.00/tonne.

The Nov10/Nov11 differential continues to narrow, with the gap in London now down to GBP22.00/tonne. As previously reported, there seem to be plenty of players now willing to bet that these prices are here to stay.

Demand from the bioethanol sector is one reason. In the UK we have a new refinery due to open in "mid-2011" with a wheat feedstock requirement of around 1.2 MMT per annum.

In Germany, the cabinet are due to vote on Wednesday to potentially double the maximum allowed inclusion level for bioethanol in blended fuel sold at the pumps from 5% to 10%.

Meanwhile EU and UK exports for the 2010/11 season so far continue to run well ahead of last year, meaning that availability could be very tight come the spring.

Ukraine winter grain plantings are late, but have pretty much caught up with the planned area, although this might cause problems if they get a harsh winter. In Russia winter sowings are still well behind.

Although some rain fell over the weekend in parts of the US Great Plains, drought was not resolved in Kansas, the leading US wheat state, say Martell Crop Projections.

Early Call On CBOT

25/10/10 -- The overnight grains closed sharply higher, although off session highs, on dollar weakness. Beans finished up around 18c, with corn 10c or so firmer and wheat around 6-8c higher.

The dollar is down on ideas that the weekend's G20 meeting paid only lip service to attempts to avoid the "competitive devaluation" of currencies. The market's perception is that further QE form the Fed is on the cards early in 2011.

Before that however we have the US midterm elections, a strong showing by the Republicans could scupper any talk of increasing QE.

The US corn and soybean harvest is well advanced, especially in comparison to last year, the USDA will update on that tonight. Last week's report showed the corn harvest at 68% done versus only 16% a year previously, with beans 83% versus just 28% in 2009.

Chinese demand is still another huge factor. They took almost 1.5 MMT of weekly soybean sales in excess of 2 MMT last week. Latest customs data shows September imports up 68% on last year, at a time when shipments are usually cut back due to their own harvest.

Today the USDA have just reported them taking another 232,000 MT of US beans.

Significant Chinese corn imports in 2011 aren't out of the question, whilst their own winter wheat crop prospects are under the microscope following dryness in many areas of the country's wheat growing districts.

US corn export sales were poor last week, and talk is that Asian buyers are switching into feed wheat at current levels.

Australia's wheat crop seems to be shrinking due to severe drought in WA, although decent conditions in the east look like meaning this season's crop comes in around 22 MMT, broadly similar to last year.

Argy wheat prospects meanwhile are improving.

Russian winter grain plantings are running at 13.3 million hectares versus 18.5 million last year. Ukraine winter plantings are now broadly in line, although crops are finally in they've gone in late leaving them vulnerable to whatever the winter throws at them.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn up 8-10c, beans up 15-20c, wheat up 6-8c.

EU Rapemeal Prices

25/10/10 -- Basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/tonne:

May/FH Jul11

Ukraine Winter Sowings

25/10/10 -- Winter grain plantings in Ukraine are around 90% done at 7.64 million hectares, according to the local Ag Ministry. Total winter sown area is expected to come in at 8.5 million hectares.

Winter wheat sowings are ahead of last season at 6.3 million hectares (6.0 million in 2009), whilst winter barley area is down at 970,000 (1.14 million). The final winter wheat area is forecast at 6.76 million hectares, up slightly from last season.

My Ukraine agronomist chum Mike Lee reports on his blog here that "a lot of wheat has been planted late which will increase the risk of winter kill and what does make it through the winter will be lower yielding because it was planted late."

Although he does sat that "what has gone in is growing well and there are plenty of good looking crops around the regions."

Another Big Week For The Pound

25/10/10 -- The pound is set for another big week, with tomorrow bringing the release of the latest set of GDP figures, this time for Q3.

The vibe is that these could show a significant decline from growth of 1.2 percent in Q2 to more like 0.4 percent, giving more ammunition to those on the Bank of England's MPC that want to see QE2 launched sooner rather than later.

MPC member Adam Posen voted to increase QE by GBP50 to GBP250 billion, according to the minutes of last month's meeting.

The pound is currently flirting either side of 1.12 against the euro, having plumbed as low as 1.1188 this morning, it's lowest since late March.

The Early Vibe

25/10/10 -- The overnight grains are firmer across the board, with beans up 20c, corn up 14c and wheat up 10c or so.

The US dollar is back under pressure following the weekend's G20 meeting, which seems to have been largely well-received by the markets sending Asian stocks higher.

Chinese corn futures on the Dalian Exchange hit record levels overnight on ideas that this season's crop will be significantly below official estimates of 169 MMT. Rumours still circulate of Chinese buying interest in US corn, although none showed up in last week's USDA export sales report.

China imported 68% more soybeans in September 2010 than they did in the same month of 2009, according to customs data.

Meanwhile the newly planted Chinese winter wheat crop hasn't got off to a great start, with 50% of it in or on the edge of expanding moderate to extreme drought, according to QT Weather. "Dry weather will continue over central China and the Yellow River Valley over the next 7 days," they add.

Rabobank says that Australia's wheat crop this year is currently forecast at "a little over 22 MMT" which is 2-3 MMT lower than other trade estimates. They also warn of the possibility of significant downside potential.

London wheat will likely open higher in the back of the firmer overnight markets and the weak pound, which is flirting with falling below 1.12 against the euro this morning.


25/10/10 -- A dark grey cloud of mourning hangs over Nogger HQ this today following the sudden demise of Stanley the guinea pig overnight. Stanley leaves behind a sad widow, Muffin, but strangely no dependant children.

You see only now can I reveal the shameful truth regarding Stanley's sad six year existence, for Stanley was not a he, he was a she. They don't advise you to get a male and female at the pet shop unless you want the inevitable to happen. Kids, divorce, Stanley has to move out to a smaller terraced hutch on the wrong side of the garden, that sort of thing.

But MrsN#3, being in possession of a then five year old boy and seven year old girl, was under strict instructions that the youngest wanted a boy guinea pig. So an elaborate ruse involving the purchase of two females and calling one of them Stanley was concocted, and for my shameful part in the whole sorry episode I stood by and said nothing. I'm expecting a visit from the police at any moment, and quite possibly the News of the World too.

RIP Stanley, the transexual cross-dressing guinea pig, forced to live a lie for all these years.

Stanley will be buried in an Adidas shoebox (a Predator shoebox mind, no expense spared) in a simple but moving ceremony at the bottom of the garden sometime later this evening. PLEASE SEND NO FLOWERS, he/she specifically requested no floral tributes. His/her dying wish was that those many kind folk out there that knew and loved him/her for what he/she was, could show their last respects by hitting the donate button at the foot of this blog. Go on, it's what he/she wanted.

Tesco My Arse

24/10/10 -- An article in the Telgraph over the weekend caught my eye, stating that High Street bully boy Tesco is refusing to accept price rises in the cost of Hovis from Premier Foods, and as such is pulling several Hovis lines from it's shelves.

Britain's best selling supermarket chain, who reputedly make GBP6,000/minute, would doubtless say that they are only trying to help the housewife in these difficult times.

The Premier Foods spokesperson mentioned in the article was very restrained and tight-lipped, conscious no doubt of the implications of speaking out with regards to other leading products in the PF stable like Bisto and Mr Kipling cakes.

The case for a price rise is abundantly clear, as even your average housewife now knows about Russia's wheat problems this year.

Of course Tesco is having none of it. Have they even considered that maybe your average housewife wouldn't actually mind paying a bit more for her in-store Hovis, particularly as it is made form 100% British wheat. Surely if the Tesco fascists are really concerned about helping the housewife it wouldn't do any harm to offer her with a choice would it?

They could even go the whole hog and help the British farmer AND the housewife by absorbing the price increase themselves, and settle for making just GBP5999/minute instead. But of course we all know that isn't going to happen don't we?

I suggest that we all say bollocks to Tesco and go and spend our hard-earned elsewhere, and whilst you're in there pick up a Hovis Seed Sensations loaf. Hovis are donating 4p off every one of those sold to the Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal.